Waste of Time

The Daily Telegraph reports that Catholics in England are raising a petition asking for married men and women to be ordained.

What amazes and amuses me about these people is that they claim to be Catholics and obviously haven’t got a clue how the Catholic Church works. Do they really think that the Vatican is going to change the rules because there is a priest shortage in England and Wales and a handful of liberals (or as Damian Thompson calls them ‘sandalistas’) are raising a petition?
I’ve lived in England. I can tell you why there is a priest shortage. One of the reasons is that certain liberal bishops actually discourage vocations. They turn away intelligent, suitable candidates who they deem ‘too rigid’ because guess what?–they actually believe the Catholic faith. I can name the bishops, for instance, who refuse to ordain any former Anglican priests, both married and celibate.
Furthermore, (and I have this straight from the horses’ mouth) they have an open agenda to discourage vocations to the priesthood. They like to point to South America where there are few priests and the parishes are run by lay catechists and administrators. With fewer priests they will be able to consolidate parishes into mega parishes, leaving the individual parishes to be run by ‘administrators’ and surprise, surprise, those administrators will be lay women. In other words, ‘If you won’t let us have women priests we’d rather have no priests at all.’
The goofy thing about having lay administrators running parishes is that the naive liberal bishops assume that the lay people who take charge will be people like themselves. However, what if a rad trad lay person takes charge and informs the liberal bishop that he is no longer welcome in the parish? What if a loony charismatic woman takes over the parish? Remember lay administrator will not be taking vows of obedience to the bishop. They could well be hoisted on their own petard.
They talk blithely of this brave new world where the lay people will take charge and ‘be church.’ No one has thought of all the practical difficulties (not to mention the theological ones) of such a plan. Who is going to pay these people a living wage? What about labor law? Who’s in charge? Who will hire and fire? What management structure will be in place? What about benefits? Retirement plans? Housing? The Catholic Church in England is far too moribund, unimaginative and incompetent to manage such an innovation. These are men who couldn’t organize a drinking spree in a brewery, and they want to put in place a total overhaul of the parish system? Get real.
If the Catholics in England want more priests why don’t they import priests from Poland and other countries where there are too many priests? The answer: “they would find it difficult to become enculturated here.” Which is code for “Those Polish priest are too conservative.” 
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  • So how did you fall through the cracks? 😉

  • One major issue with hiring lay people is that you are now going to be bound by the hiring laws of the land. In other words, you must obey the secular anti-discrimination laws. In fact, in some countries, aren’t the governments already pushing the churches to adhere to the secular laws.So, what is to stop an atheist from applying for the job. And can the church say no if the person is otherwise qualified?

  • I had to come to USA to be ordained.

  • This is amazing! Bishops who don’t have concern for the sacramental life of their own people! How sad that it has gotten to this state. How could the Holy Father right this ship?

  • Do you have conservative orders that will accept these orthodox men into seminary? It seems that is the route many of them are taking these days. It does still leave some problems. More and more ministry is coming from orders. The local bishop has very limited control of them.

  • Fr L-I must agree that the laity are not meant to lead everything. Formal training in the church councils, church history, theology, and canon law count for something. As I’ve mentioned else where I have ultra-orthodox splitter anglicans to thank for much of my formation, because the Roman laity is just way to lax to teach the councils and other important catholic stuff to adults. The laity at my parish are somewhat lax in many of their roles, I shudder to think of them taking over our mega parish, and it is indeed a mega parish.I doubt that there is a pervasive conspiracy in the UK to force female ordinations or laitization by priest shortage. I suspect your sample size of bishops is a bit low on that one.But I can easily believe there are bishops whose organizations discriminate against conservatives. I’ve heard of that in the states. And the lefty freud-enamored psychologists they have screening priests seem to have contributed to the child abuse scandal.At least in the states, the thing to do is find another diocese that will have you.Did you really try every diocese in the UK? Surely not every diocese is anti-conservative and anti-anglo-convert.Question: Do you think the lavendar mafia has anything to do with the situation in the UK?

  • I would be interested, father, in knowing which bishops you refer to (in private, of course). It seems to me that, after almost two years of inactivity, I may be becoming a victim of the situation you describe.What gets me is not so much the liberal nature of many of the hierarchs in England and Wales, but their profound blandness. You would have thought that the record of Bede and the great saints of England and Wales might have been an inoculation against such a thing, but no…Never in my life could I have imagined so many successors to the apostles to be so bored by the task.

  • Of course the real irony of this is whilst policies as you described above are being pursued with Vatican II as their justification, the Council itself was actually very strong on the relationship between Holy Orders and the exercise of jurisdiction within the Church. *sigh*

  • The great Father George Rutler, the sainted Pastor of Park Avenue, has said that we are in the greatest crisis in the Church since the Arian heresy of the 3rd Century. Some people will immediately scoff and go on about “extreme views etc, etc…” – but we see the reality with what Newman (John Henry not Scott!) called the “mass apostasy of the faithful.” In the 3rd Century we had whole regions run by heretic bishops, clergy, laity – this is what is now happening – it’s not scare-mongering – it’s reality – the battle is on – and it is the same one it has always been: Orthodoxy v heterodoxy – suitable for a Chesterton conference!p.s. – I hope you and Joseph are having ChesterBellocian quantities of fine ale?

  • Oh MY GOD! And I thought what is going on in the CHURCH OF ENGLAND/ANGLICAN COMMUNION was depressing.The CATHOLIC CHURCH in ENGLAND seems to be disintegrating at a vastly accelerated rate. England? Mary’s Dowry? Maybe it’s time for a new uprising!

  • What you have written describes the Church in Australia to a T. I have a friend who is at present living in Germany and his church has a woman leading it. The priest arrives, the woman gives him his instructions, he says Mass and leaves.

  • I think I agree with Owl of the Remove on his assessment of the situation (and also about Fr Rutler!) The USCCB is bad enough, but yes, England is worse. There is one motivating thought that depressed laity should keep in mind: We are under NO obligation to obey disobedience. And while we have the Eucharist, we have all we really need.

  • You are believing uncritically what a national newspaper says!I am an English Catholic and this is the first I have heard of any such petition, I see from the article there are 2000 signatures- you could probably get 2000 Catholics to sign a paper saying they believe in just about anything. Because a ‘famous’ Catholic is involved it gets into the news.I am sorry to hear about your experiences with English Bishops and glad you managed to get ordained, I hope you would have found a welcome in our Diocese (we have one former Anglican married priest, an older chap with grandchildren)

  • I agree with Angela on the subject of the press. I followed the link to see how many people had signed on line – 103 yesterday, so the other 1897 signed a paper petition then? No one was listed as Fr or Rev.The dissenting groups on the website have always struck me as being in the shadows, ( apart from when the BBC have given them airtime in the interests of ‘balance’. ) The history of Catholic education in the UK in the last 40 years does not suggest that the laity are safe running Church institutions.

  • Fr. L -I must confess that I have to empathize with Angela’s position. I find it difficult to believe that in a nation of over 90M people, there aren’t a few conservative bishops. Were you willing to relocate anywhere in ‘ol Brittania, or, were you just as happy to move back to terra firma if the region you were in was too far gone in nihilistic modernity?

  • There probably was a bishop who would have ordained me, but I deliberately did not go ‘bishop shopping’ I wanted to be obedient to the Church and the Church spoke through my ordinary even if she said what I did not like to hear.In the end it was the Bishop of Charleston who invited me to return to what was my home diocese in USA to be ordained. Because of that he too was properly my ‘local bishop.’

  • Hi Fr. L -I’m not sure that this ‘local bishop’ stuff is really recognized anymore. I know that Cardinal Sean, who is quite orthodox, has taken priests from far flung places like Alaska. If God calls you to a conservative apostolate, I don’t see why it would be in any way disobedient to follow that call to a conservative diocese, any more than it might be to follow a call to the Franciscans, Dominicans, or Opus Dei.

  • A similar petition ran in Australia and one of its authors – ex priest Paul Collins – is, I believe, in the UK giving his advice about this one.Courtesy of the Hermaneutic of Continuity is what one priest sent the petitioners. http://the-hermeneutic-of-continuity.blogspot.com/Fr David Barrett sent this to the petitionersDear petitionersAs a Catholic priest ordained 15 years ago and now doing further studies in Rome I would like to:1. Affirm my wholehearted support for the ancient practice of celibacy for the presbyterate in the life of the Church2. Affirm my wholehearted support for the maintenance of clerical celibacy as a necessary sign to the world of the priority of the Kingdom of God and the call of Jesus, of love for Him and for His Church over other earthly ties3. Affirm my support for celibacy not just as a discipline but as a practice grounded in the example of the Lord Himself, as a way of life that expresses the heart of the priesthood as a complete self-giving for the Church, as Christ gave Himself totally for His one bride – and so affirm that there are good doctrinal and theological reasons for this practice4. Affirm my wholehearted assent for the Church’s definitive teaching concerning the reservation of the sacrament of Holy Orders to men alone5. Affirm my wholehearted assent to all of the Church’s teachings, not as “Vatican policies”, but as the teachings of Jesus Christ who gave His teaching authority to the Church’s Magisterium6. Affirm my prayers for those who have left the priesthood to get married, but my disagreement that they should be allowed back to active priestly ministry still married – such a move would be discouraging to those who have tried to maintain the promises they made at ordination and is a sign of a lack of respect to them7. Deprecate this petition as an attempt to further the culture of dissent in the Church, a dissent whose real nature is a refusal to believe and so is opposed to the full act of faith, and so will do no good but will serve to encourage division in the Body of Christ8. Acknowledge that there is indeed a crisis in the life of the Catholic Church, but this has been caused by dissent from the teachings of the Church, a lack of thorough Catholic catechesis, a lack of holiness and prayer in the life of the Church, an unwillingness to evangelise culture with the fullness of the Catholic Faith and a growing antagonistic secularism in the world which dissent actually promotes.Yours in the FaithFr David B BarrettCasa Santa MariaVia dell’Umilta 3000187 RomeItaly

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  • Marcus…I am not sure the “lavendar mafia” work to ordain women. The dysfunction of such men is ignoring and covering over the fornication and adultery within their own ranks. They are overly sympathetic to those who give in to their disordered affections or celebrate the indulgence of such vices. Men and women with same sex attraction can be either liberal or conservative. Though, I do agree the priesthood needs more heterosexual oriented men.

  • “Activism” is a modern secular “virtue.” Petitions and such are expressions of that secular mindset. And since petitions can be “signed” a hundred times by the same person, they are utterly invalid as a measuring stick of opinion anyway. And if these signatories were actually Catholic, they would know that popular opinion does not guide Church policy. I think the whole thing is a sham.

  • Dwight,Please name the bishops.James

  • I understand why you wouldn’t want to name the Bishops concerned: the libel case you’d probably face on any future visit to the UK would be enough to put anybody off!

  • Father,What is detraction?